UIDAI locks horns with activist for 'misinterpreting' RTI reply
The UIDAI - entrusted with the onerous task of preparing Aadhaar cards for all Indians - has locked horns with an RTI activist, accusing him of "misinterpreting" replies to Right to Information queries.
 
In a statement here on Wednesday, the UIDAI has refused contentions made by Mumbai-based RTI activist Anil Galgali - based on a UIDAI's reply - that it had awarded Aadhaar card project works worth Rs.13,663 crore without soliciting tenders.
 
"We categorically state that this is a false statement made with malafide intentions," H.L. Verma, UIDAI’s deputy director (media), said of the report carried by IANS and other media on September 20.
 
The skewed presentation of information received under RTI without context and proper understanding of the facts is an attempt to tarnish the clean image of UIDAI, he added.
 
Verma explained that the total approved outlay for the UIDAI project is Rs.13,663.22 crore and it pays to the state government, public sector banks and public institutions only Rs.40 for each Aadhaar card for enrolment done by their agencies.
 
“UIDAI only does the empanelment of the enrolment agencies... the question of issuing any tender by UIDAI does not arise... It is the registrars who enter into contracts with the enrolments agencies...," Verma pointed out.
 
To this, Galgali said: “In reply to my RTI query, the UIDAI’s Public Information Officer categorically stated that there is ‘no tendering process’. He did not clearly state this or mention that the works are carried out by various state governments and other agencies."
 
Referring to UIDAI’s contention that the registrars were required to do open tendering for engaging enrolment agencies from those agencies who are already empanneled by it, Galgali said it was the UIDAI’s duty to explain this process or it should have been forwarded to concerned registrars for their response, as per Section 6(3) of the RTI Act, 2005.
 
The UIDAI also termed as "miscomprehension and malafide" allegations that 25 companies were given contracts without tendering and said its website lists all contracts awarded with tender documents, following the prescribed government norms.
 
Galgali pointed out that the miscomprehension arose due to the vague nature of replies to simple, direct RTI queries submitted by him, and the fact that no tenders were issued for such huge Aadhaar card works remains hazy.
 
“On its website, under the title ‘Contracts Awarded’ implies that these are contracts and not empanelment. The query sought details about contractors, but the reply on its link shows Contracts Awarded. This portrays incompetence of the UIDAI’s PIO to respond correctly to RTI queries,” Galgali said.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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'RBI to issue draft report on relaxing external borrowings'
Economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das on Wednesday said the Reserve Bank of India would soon issue a draft report on liberalising External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs) on which the government was holding discussions with the RBI.
 
Speaking at an investor summit here, Das said the government was also discussing ways to further relax the sectoral caps on foreign direct investment.
 
In January this year, the RBI made changes to the ECB norms under which authorised money changing banks are allowed to create a charge on securities. The decision was taken with a view to liberalise and expand the options of securities.
 
ECB is a significant component in India's external debt and key driver of its magnitude. It has made up the highest share in India's external debt over the years.
 
By the end of the last fiscal, ECBs had the highest share of 38.2 percent in India's external debt.
 
"The rise in commercial borrowings was due to a spike in commercial bank loans and securitised borrowing," the finance ministry said earlier this year releasing the external debt data for 2014-15.
 
India's total external debt at March-end this year was $475.8 billion, up 6.6 percent from the corresponding period a year ago. As a percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP), external debt was 23.8 percent at March-end, up from 23.6 percent in 2013-14.
 
"A cross-country comparison based on International Debt Statistics 2015 of the World Bank, which presents the debt data for 2013, shows India continues to be among the less vulnerable countries, with its external debt indicators comparing with other indebted developing countries," the finance ministry said.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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The tragedy of farmers in once prosperous Punjab
India's oldest serving chief minister, Parkash Singh Badal, has often highlighted the miserable condition of farmers in the Green Revolution hub Punjab, warning that the peasantry, facing huge losses, could revolt if nothing was done urgently. A new book rips apart the political leadership for the mess.
 
The book, "Punjab - A Frozen Tear/Hopes and Despairs of Farmers", authored by P.P.S. Gill (Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development), attacks Punjab's political leadership, pointing out that the state has been high on slogans and populism, leading to the once prosperous and food bowl state to a situation when it has to plead with the central government to help it get over its financial mess.
 
"For too long, Punjab has been high on political slogans, false and un-kept promises, often outpacing reality. Once a 'prosperous' state, Punjab today is a 'problem' state," Gill told IANS here.
 
A veteran journalist who recently retired as Punjab's State Information Commissioner, Gill says in the book that once a food surplus state, Punjab "is now a 'basket case'... once a frontline state, Punjab is now a fault-line state".
 
"Punjab was once a bouquet state of the country. Now, it is always presenting bouquets in New Delhi, seeking one or the other financial package for things that have gone wrong," Gill said.
 
Punjab, with a population of only 2.8 crore, contributes over 50 percent of foodgrain (wheat and paddy) to the national kitty despite having just 1.54 percent of the country's geographical area.
 
"The economic sheen in Punjab is off. Agriculture, the mainstay of the state, and rural life just subsist. The state has been grappling with the growing menace of drugs addition. 
 
"The younger generation in agricultural families don't see a future in agriculture as land holdings have become small and there is no financial viability. Most are seeking jobs, which are not available, or trying to go abroad by selling land and other assets," Gill said.
 
Gill said that rural Punjab was not only grappling with the crisis facing agriculture but also with increasing drugs abuse. 
 
In the past 15 years, various studies and reports have suggested clearly that a big chunk of Punjab's population was affected by drug addiction.
 
Quoting several studies and reports by experts, Gill has pointed out that Punjab does not have to go anywhere to find solutions to its present mess.
 
"There is no dearth of remedies available to put the state's economy back on the rails," Gill said. "The prescriptions in scores of studies (and) reports are gathering dust in government cupboards. Successive governments have long forgotten to make course corrections."

 

Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Janakiraman Rajalakshmi

2 years ago

Reading this makes me feel very sad. Punjabis do not deserve this. They are very hardworking & good hearted people.

REPLY

bharati

In Reply to Janakiraman Rajalakshmi 2 years ago

Agreed. The govt put in huge funds and then paid for the best known agricultural scientific practices in the Punjab, to create the Green Revolution. Punjab must be helped. Begin with population control, since India does not and cannot have an endless number of jobs. Then set up de-addiction bootcamps.

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